Alyssa Dowd becoming a force behind the dish for the Raiders.
WALT DISNEY WORLD, FLORIDA: On a team filled with upperclassmen, it’s easy for a younger player to go unnoticed, even when they play a key position.
Torrington sophomore Alyssa Dowd is the Raiders second year catcher who may have flown under the radar a year ago but is making herself known in a big way as the slow to start season gets flowing for a team that made a great run to the Class L semifinals a year ago.
Dowd has upped her game to the point that she is comfortable handling one of the top pitchers in the state in senior Ali DuBois, who is going on to play Division I softball at Boston University next fall.
The switch-hitting backstop is one of a dozen Raiders who have made the trip down to the place that Micky and Minnie hang out at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as they play both official and unofficial games through Thursday.
With two games left on their schedule, the Raiders have had a strong showing over the first two days as they beat Naugatuck by a 10-1 final in a game that counts towards their regular season games and won both scrimmages they played against a depleted Rockville team and Coventry, two other Connecticut schools.
After catching DuBois in the win over the Greyhounds, Dowd took the opening scrimmage off on Wednesday before setting up behind the plate for five innings of a six inning win over Coventry.
What you notice right away with Dowd are her reflexes, which are superior and help her get to foul pops or bunts that go the wrong way.
Dowd is quickly becoming one of the vocal leaders of the team who is comfortable taking charge of infield positioning or snapping off a fast throw to first, looking to catch a runner napping.
During her freshman year, Dowd had a chance to do what most players only dream of when she got to play on the same team as her sister Ashley, who was the Torrington centerfielder a year ago and it made a mark.
“My sister had a lot to do with how I got to where I am,” Dowd said, “She played all four years in high school and set the example, so I think I have big shoes to fill. I’ve always kind of played up and she had a lot to do with that.”
During the Raiders match up with rival Naugatuck, you may have seen DuBois shake off her catcher a few times but for the most part, the two were on the same page and that comes from a bond that has formed between the two.
“I feel we have a pretty great connection on and off the field,” Dowd said, “We both know each other well enough to know what works and what doesn’t. During the games, we kind of watch to see where batters are standing and we feel pretty comfortable about how we are going to approach things.”
Head coach Maryanne Musselman was pleasantly surprised with how well Dowd has upped her game in her second year behind the dish.
“I didn’t expect her to take charge as much as she has,” Musselman said. “She charges right out there and tells the infielders where to go and what to do and she’s very comfortable calling pitches.”
After DuBois and Dowd finished their day’s work in the second game on Wednesday, there was Dowd sitting in a folding chair, sending signals into Alexis Tyrrell who had taken over behind the dish with Julia Fritz on the mound.
Her bat has started slow but as she works to perfect her approach while taking advantage of her speed, especially when she is batting left handed, she is confident it will come.
The confidence and awareness that Dowd is showing is far beyond her years at this point and as an important year for a team with very lofty goals moves on, that leadership role will be an important piece of the puzzle that makes up the 2017 Raiders.
NOTES: Fritz (a sophomore) pitched well in the first game against a Rockville team that has been hit hard by the injury bug since they got to Florida. A MASH unit walked up to the trainer’s table after their last game of the day.
Taking the place of DuBois won’t be easy but Fritz has been working hard to be ready when it is her time in the circle.
Tyrrell caught game one, something she had done most of her career before entering high school.
This is a strong lineup that Musselman throws at teams with Tyrrell in the leadoff spot, followed by Nina Julian, Carbone and DuBois.
The production of the next five is important for the success of this team in 2017 and so far, Lauren Jamieson, Dowd, Taylor Rogers, Amada Thiel and Sidnee Kovall have all been contributing in a strong way.